Rockdale led by as many as 10, went up by five at halftime and even took a six point lead twice in the final four minutes.
But in the end, it was the final second that counted, and after all was said and done, it was Druid Hills which leapt, celebrated, embraced and cried on the court of the Luella gymnasium, clutching the Region 8-AAAAAA cup.
Rockdale was ahead throughout, but the Red Devils hit a 3-pointer to send it into overtime, and fought back from a six-point deficit twice to win 81-80 Saturday night, giving the Bulldogs the No. 2 seed in this week's state playoffs.
Rockdale will host Region 3-AAAAAA's No. 3 team in Westlake Wednesday.
The Bulldogs will look to get ahead early as they did against Druid Hills, but unlike Saturday night not give up big plays by big players.
Druid Hills' 6-foot-8-Division I-recruited Clarence Williams came up with the biggest play of all on an inbounds pass underneath the Red Devils' basket with 2.8 seconds remaining.
Williams got free in the middle of the painted area and used his long wing span - clearly the biggest player on the court - to float a layup in as the buzzer sounded.
The Bulldogs led 35-30 at halftime but Williams scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Rockdale's All-region player, C.J. Wilson also came up big late, scoring the first six points of overtime - a and-one play and a 3-pointer - to give Rockdale a 73-67 advantage. After Druid Hills cut the lead to four, 73-69, Rockdale's LaRonte Parks made two free throws and Wilson struck again on a 3-pointer.
The senior made two more free throws for an 80-74 Rockdale lead with 55 seconds to play and it looked like the Bulldogs would hold on for the title.
However Williams made a basket, and after a defensive stop, Druid Hills' Kyle Simmons drained a 3-pointer. After it took the scorers' table and the referees more than five minutes to figure out the score was 80-79 in favor of Rockdale over an earlier non-3-pointer discrepancy, Rockdale got the ball under Druid Hills basket. A long pass, intended for Wilson, was intercepted and Druid Hills' ensuing shot bounced out of bounds, setting up Williams' winner.
Wilson finished with 23 points and Parks had 17 for the Bulldogs, who entered the tournament as the top seed. Druid Hills, which lost both its previous matchups to Rockdale this season, came in as the region's fifth seed, before beating Lovejoy and Luella to reach the final game.
Earlier Saturday, Rockdale's girls' team defeated Luella to secure the No. 3 seed in the state tournament. The Lady Bulldogs fell to Newton, 75-55, in the semifinals Friday, missing out on home court in the playoffs.